Monday, August 11, 2014

Ronn Sutton & Janet Hetherington on the Outlaw Trail to Fan Expo 2014

I'm happy to report that Ronn Sutton and I are slated to appear again at Fan Expo Canada 2014 in artists' alley.

The show is taking place from August 28 to 31, 2014 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. We'll have comics and original art, and will be doing commissions. We hope to see friendly faces there!

This year, Ronn and I are on the trail as "outlaw creators." We both have projects with an outlaw theme. Ronn is illustrating a new graphic novel called Lucifers Sword MC for Motor Books, about the fictional life of an outlaw motorcycle club. The graphic novel has all the drama and excitement you'd expect from a story written by Hells Angel member Phil Cross. The graphic novel is due out in January 2015.

My outlaw connection is the release on DVD of The Last Outlaw, a western movie that I co-wrote (as The Hunt for Johnny Ringo) on September 9, 2014. The Last Outlaw stars Michael Paré and was directed and produced in the Ottawa area by filmmaker Brett Kelly. I've scripted another western feature for Brett and I'm working on a horror feature for him as well.

Earlier this year, my short horror promo video took first place in the Cellar Door Film Festival's promo video competition. It can be seen on the Cellar Door Film Festival's website, YouTube and on BlackFlagTV.

In other news, I appeared on CBC's All in a Day radio program on August 6 (thanks Alan!) to talk about teaching kids the creative process of writing comics at Carleton University's Creative Writing Camps this summer. I'm teaching two sessions.. with the help of the Caped Cod, my creation Bat-Fish.

Ronn plans to talk about Lucifers Sword on All in a Day sometime in the future. But you can you talk to him about it at Fan Expo. Be sure to drop by.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Canada Post offers Haunted Canada stamps on Friday the 13th

Hey, hey horror fans!

Canada Post is releasing new Haunted Canada stamps for domestic mail on Friday the 13th this June.

From Canada Post's online description: Swap ghost stories with your friends across Canada! Include these spine-tingling stamps on all your domestic mail. A unique foil treatment gives each stamp special ghostly effects.

The first in a multi-year series, this collection of 5 Haunted Canada stamps tells some popular ghostly tales:
  • Alberta’s Ghost Bride: The ghost of a 1920s bride who died in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is said to inhabit the hotel to this day.
  • Saskatchewan’s St. Louis Ghost Train: Believers say a ghostly glowing light is a CNR conductor who lost his head to a passing train in the 1920s.
  • Ontario’s Fort George: Phantom footsteps and ghosts make this one of the most haunted places in Canada.
  • Quebec’s Château Frontenac: The hotel’s namesake is said to wander hotel halls in his 17th century garb.
  • PEI’s Northumberland Strait: A burning ship is often spotted between NB and PEI. As would-be rescuers approach, the ship disappears into the mist.
Could a Bonesetter stamp be far behind?

Issue date: June 13, 2014
Stamp designer: Lionel Gadoury, Context Creative
Stamp value: Permanent, always worth the going rate
Number of stamps included: 10
Product # 413910111 - $8.50

Friday, May 9, 2014

Call for Ottawa 2014 Film Festival entries

Call for entries – OIAF, Digi60, OIFF, OWFF, and CDFF

Five local film festivals are currently (or soon will be) accepting submissions for festivals taking place in 2014. And in case you didn't hear, I won first place in the Cellar Door Film Festival promo video challenge.



Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF)
Festival dates: September 17-21, 2014
Submissions deadline: May 16 (entry forms) and May 30 (preview DVDs)

Digi60 Filmmakers Festival (Spring Edition)
Temporary registration page here
Festival date: June 22, 2014
Submissions deadline: June 14 (the “catch” will be released on May 15)

Ottawa International Film Festival (OIFF)
Festival dates: October 15-19, 2014
Submissions deadline: June 30 (earlybird deadline ends May 10)

One World Film Festival (OWFF)
Festival dates: September 25-26 and October 2-3, 2014
Submissions deadline: June 30

Cellar Door Film Festival (CDFF)
Festival dates: TBD (Fall 2014)
Submissions deadline: August 15 (earlybird deadline ends July 15)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lone Ranger vs. Sharknado

I went to see Disney's The Lone Ranger at the SilverCity Cineplex movie theatre last night, wanting to catch it before it closes. It was a good-looking production featuring interesting portrayals of the iconic characters of my youth, and it provided some strong moments typical of the western genre. Still, my overall reaction was: "It's trying too hard to be a hit."

Contrast this to the crazy-wild interest and success of Sharknado, which played on TV last week (SyFy and Space). This was utter B-movie fare: sharks swept up by a tornado and dumped into flooded California. According to this movie, your best defense against a tornado waterspout is to have a chainsaw handy in case sharks rain down on you.

It may seem like I'm comparing apples to oranges here, but I believe these two movies speak to why audiences embraced low-budget Sharknado and have had underperforming response to high-budget The Lone Ranger.

The key word here is underperforming. While there was a lot riding on Silver, there was less sink or swim for Sharknado. Sharknado was intended to be over-the-top and silly. The producers made a movie they wanted to see. Based on the Facebook and Twitter response, others wanted to see it too.

(To The Lone Ranger's credit, the  ticket-seller said the film had sold out the night before and the theatre was pretty packed when I was there.)

The Lone Ranger had its over-the-top moments too, with a horse that defied gravity and a Saloon Madam's leg that doubled as a firearm (think Cherry in Planet Terror). But rebooting a treasured icon for modern viewers is a tricky business, and while it has worked for some films like Star Trek (2009), The Lone Ranger suffers upfront from an audience disconnect to the "western experience." What interest is there for today's kids in the need to build a physical cross-nation connection (the railway) when they can pick up their phone and reach anyone anywhere around the world? The Twitter generation is also more of a collective mindset, more Borg than John Wayne, so the notion of a "Lone Ranger" who will right wrongs may not have the same appeal or impact as it did for young audiences in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

So, why would Sharknado, which also had a 1950s vibe, fare so well? As absurd as its premise may be, Sharknado likely resonated with viewers who recently experienced mass flooding in the US midwest, Canada and other disasters. The best science fiction and horror movies exploit the fears of the time. The price was right too: free to watch or PVR. In addition, while movie theatres politely lecture  patrons to turn off their cell phones during screenings, the home-viewing audience can partake of alcoholic beverages, tweet and FB post to their heart's delight during the broadcast. This can be seen as equivalent to watching flicks from the comfy seats of big-finned cars at the drive-ins of the 1950s.

Going back to Star Trek, it's interesting to note that Gene Roddenberry pitched and sold the original TV concept as "Wagon Train to the stars." The western was in its heyday. People were connected to that genre's theme. The Lone Ranger may yet ride again, when the time is right for a white-hat hero rather than a  chainsaw-wielding one.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

OIAF PITCH THIS! deadline is July 1

TAC, The Ottawa International Film Festival’s (OIAF) industry event, announces the return of its Pitch THIS! program, presented by 9 Story Entertainment.

 
Pitch THIS! allows content creators the opportunity to pitch their project ideas to a panel of international broadcasters. Following the five-minute pitches, panel members will share their insight and provide valuable feedback to the presenters.
 
The panelists will assess each pitch based on their creative, innovative and financial merits as well as their marketability and overall appeal.
 
Animators are encouraged to submit their ideas. To qualify for the program, proposals from animators must include the following:
  • Project synopsis, including target audience, technique, format, rough budget (1-2 pages)
  • One episode synopsis
  • Bio of key executives
  • Short paragraph indicating your current stage of development and any additional information (i.e. interactive components, merchandise, etc.)
  • Concept art (2 or 3 images)
TAC will be accepting proposal by email (tac@animationfestival.ca) until July 1st, 2013.
 
NEW FOR 2013: The two selected proposals will each win 3 nights of accommodation (value $600 each) during the event, plus one complimentary all access TAC Anima pass (value $540 each) per proposal.
 
TAC (The Animation Conference) is a specialized industry conference for animation professionals including content creators, developers, producers, distributors, and marketers.
 
The Conference brings together key players from North America and international markets to provide a forum for active networking, practical information exchange, and trade in a comfortable and intimate environment.
 
Now celebrating its 10th year, TAC has become North America’s preeminent animation industry conference. TAC 2013 takes place September 18-20 in Ottawa.
 
For complete information about TAC and the Ottawa International Animation Festival, visit www.animationfestival.ca.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ottawa Comiccon is hometown grand for Janet Hetherington & Ronn Sutton!

A typical convention scene:
Ivy shows off art by Janet Hetherington
The second installment of Ottawa Comiccon is taking place at the end of this week (May 10-12, 2013) at the EY Centre. That's in Ottawa South, near the airport, and that's where all the fun is happening this weekend!

Having a comic con in your hometown is great. You can enjoy all the usual convention craziness and still have the comfort of sleeping in your own bed at the end of a busy day.

Ronn Sutton and I live in Ottawa. We'll both be at the show to talk to people about our work, do sketches and commissions and offer original art and comics.

Ask us about the Honey West/Kolchak the Night Stalker #1 comic, or about our work on Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. We're always happy to autograph (for free), so bring copies or check out our table offerings. Hint: If you want to get one of Ronn's original art pages from the Elvira comic book, do it now. There's not too many left!

Ronn and I are also looking forward to seeing professional colleagues (and pals) like artists Dave Ross and Leonard Kirk. And of course, there's all the film and TV stars to dazzle you.

The costumers (or cosplayers as they're called these days) are a visual treat on their own. It's always a blast to see your favourite comic characters come to life.


So now you know where Ronn and I will be this weekend. Come by our table if you're coming too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hello Kitty! Original comic coming to Comic-Con International 2013



Hello Kitty - off to San Diego
VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced a new publishing deal with Sanrio, Inc., to develop a series of original graphic novels, and a special single-volume comic featuring a limited-edition Hello Kitty design.

The single-volume Hello Kitty comic is scheduled to debut at the 2013 Comic-Con Show in San Diego with a Comic-Con exclusive cover by Eisner-nominated artist Jacob Chabot. The comic will feature art by Victoria Maderna, Ian McGinty and Chabot.

The main graphic novel series is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2013 with Here We Go!, a collection of comic stories about Hello Kitty’s travels. Both offerings will be rated ‘A’ for All Ages, and will be published under the company’s VIZ Kids imprint.

VIZ Media previously teamed with Sanrio and video game company Capcom to develop a pair of fun STREET FIGHTER X Sanrio books that were released in November 2012.

HELLO KITTY: Here We GO!· MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.99 CAN · Available Fall 2013  
Hello Kitty has places to be and friends to meet! Join Hello Kitty as she explores an underground realm, chases an unsavory cake thief around the world, climbs the Himalayas, travels back in time, and discovers that sometimes, the best place to get away from it all is between the pages of a good book.

HELLO KITTY FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND · MSRP: $6.99 US / $7.99 CAN · Available Summer 2013  
It’s Hello Kitty as you've never seen her, in stories filled with fashion, music and adventure!

Sanrio is the global company behind classic iconic characters Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars, My Melody, and many more. Sanrio was founded in the 1960's in Japan by Shintaro Tsuji, whose simple dream of bringing smiles to people's faces grew into the brand's "small gift, big smile" philosophy. This philosophy has served as the inspiration for the broad spectrum of products bearing the likeness of endearing characters that have helped to skyrocket the brand into a $5 billion-a-year business. Sanrio recently acquired the classic Mr. Men Little Miss brand which also has graphic novels published by VIZ Media.

“Sanrio and Hello Kitty are synonymous with the very essence of pop culture, and we’re very excited to have Hello Kitty as part of the VIZ Kids family of titles,” says Beth Kawasaki, VIZ Media Senior Editorial Director. “The new wordless comic and graphic novel series will appeal to Hello Kitty fans of all ages. VIZ Media is having a blast creating the fun new original series and we can’t wait for everyone to see the books.”

For more information on VIZ Kids graphic novels and manga, visit VIZKids.com.